Books and Code · A Miscellany

AARP outclasses Rolling Stone on Bob Dylan


A Facebook friend liked this article from Rolling Stone which reports on this AARP interview with Bob Dylan. The Stone lede caught my eye because it focused on something economically naive that Dylan said. Well, surprise surprise, Stone is terrible at journalism.

The economic comments are off-the-cuff and come at the bottom of the last page of an interview entirely devoted to music. Even Dylan expresses how much he enjoyed the interview because it focused on music:

I found the questions really interesting. The last time I did an interview, the guy wanted to know about everything except the music. People have been doing that to me since the ’60s — they ask questions like they would ask a medical doctor or a psychiatrist or a professor or a politician. Why? Why are you asking me these things?

So… the supposedly premier music publication entirely ignores everything said about music to report on the economically illiterate thing the celebrity blurted out in passing. That is idiotic. Apparently, AARP The Magazine is now the go-to publication for real music journalism.

Bob Dylan is a musical genius. I care a lot about what he says about music. However, his opinion on economic development in urban areas means nothing to me. It is especially sad when I happen to hear it and realize how lazily considered it is. Rolling Stone reports this as if he’s worth listening to on the matter and he clearly isn’t.

For the record, Dylan is correct when he says that it is private industry, not government, that creates jobs. However, he is wrong when he criticizes “big billionaires” for failing to do it. Government policies make doing so economically unviable. Why criticize one and excuse the other?

Dylan again:

We see crime and inner cities exploding with people who have nothing to do, turning to drink and drugs. They could all have work created for them by all these hotshot billionaires. […] There are good people there, but they’ve been oppressed by lack of work. Those people can all be working at something.

I agree, so how about we stop pretending the lack of work is all the fault of greedy businessmen? “Work created for them”–what patronizing drivel stuck in the 1920’s. Secondly, let’s not forget that instead of “turning to drink and drugs” they can turn to all sorts of positive actions that don’t require bailouts from greedy rich people, like self-education, locally-organized civic groups, neighborhood watch, etc.